I had a great conversation with a friend and fellow staff member earlier this week. She reminded me that part of the job of a pastor is to reject the idea of promoting one ministry over another. You’ve seen that happen, haven’t you? This is what it looks like in a typical church…
“Hey, you really should consider working in the nursery. I hear that the college ministry is rolling in volunteers, and they’re having to beat them off with a stick. God will love you more if you work with the least of these…the little babies. All that stuff you hear about smelly diapers is overrated.”
“Psst! Did you know that singing in the choir has been proven to reduce your life span by 12.5 years? It’s true! That’s why I’m pretty sure you need to work with teenagers. They’re much easier than practicing for a cantata.”
“If you join the parking team, the leader will taze you on a regular basis, and you’ll be flopping like a beached carp out there in the parking lot. We want you at the coffee bar.”
“Rick Langston kicks puppies for sport.” (Usually said by Charlie Dunn, rival Campus Pastor.)
I’ve been a part of plenty of churches where staff members would steal people from someone else’s ministry. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve done it myself a time or two (or 168…not that I’m keeping track). However, in a healthy church, pastors promote ministries that aren’t necessarily their own. They understand that people should serve from passion, not from pushing. They know that servants serve best when their wiring and their hiring are in alignment. They get the fact that people would rather serve because they get to, not because they’re guilted to.
In our church, that might mean that we don’t steal from other campuses, we send to other campuses. We want to view each of our ministries as a training ground to eventually give someone else a really good volunteer. For example, if someone is incredibly effective at working the First Impressions team, why not tap them to replicate the First Impressions DNA within the student ministry? Or why not take a gifted musician from the main worship service and bless the children’s worship with them?
The point: the body of Christ is much too important to build fences and hoard volunteers. We’ve got to be about the business of helping all ministries grow, all the time. We need to constantly play the field and get people plugged in all over the place.
(And just in case you’re wondering about the conversation that sparked this post…no, I hadn’t stolen anybody from this person’s ministry. But there’s still two days left in the work week…)